A #NewYearSongOfTheDay

For the first time ever I’ve been posting songs for the New Year on Twitter and the Facebook page for my blog (if you haven’t ‘liked’ the page yet the link is to the right – go on, you know you want to!). I began on Boxing Day and brought the sequence to an end today with a double, so there were eight in total. This is the full collection – I hope you enjoy them.

The approach of the New Year can be a positive time, when we look forward to what it may bring us, and can also be a time for reflection on the year that is drawing to a close. Both of these moods are represented in my choices. I began with a really positive, upbeat song: I don’t know much about the duo who go by the name of A Great Big World, but anyone who can create a song and video like this gets a thumbs up from me:

For the 27th I went for a long-time favourite song of mine. To me, this is the perfect song to match the mood of looking back, coupled with hope for the future. Counting Crows have long been a favourite band of mine too, since their first album way back in 1992. This song is from their second album, Recovering The Satellites, and includes what is probably Courtney Cox’s best acting performance ever (even better than when she danced with Bruce Springsteen 😉):

It was back to the upbeat and hopeful for the 28th. Semisonic were one of those bands who never got the success I felt they deserved. Their album Feeling Strangely Fine was a little gem, and produced three hit singles in the UK, of which this wasn’t one (!):

Alternating the mood again for the 29th I went for another of my long-time favourite singers and songs. This is from Kate Rusby’s first (of four) albums of Christmas and seasonal songs, Sweet Bells, but is not an original of hers. There are several attributions, including the one erroneously (and lazily) given by the guy who posted this video, but the generally accepted version is that the song was written in 1891 by Will Godwin and Leo Dryden. Dryden sang it in music hall performances and recorded it in 1898. It was also recorded by Peter Dawson (‘Australia’s first man of song’ in case you didn’t know – so not Rolf Harris, then). Dawson’s version is taken a little faster, which I find totally unsuited to what is actually a heart-breaking song from the perspective of a young man looking back at year end, and dreaming of home and family. I think Kate Rusby does it far more justice – this is beautiful:

I marked Sunday 30th with another reflective piece. There is no need for an introduction to Van The Man – like everything he does, this simply oozes class, style and laid-back coolness:

The song which I imagine most people associate with New Year’s Eve is Auld Lang Syne. There are countless versions of this, but none are quite as lovely as the one by Mindy Smith. If you’ve been keeping up with my seasonal music posts you’ll know that I featured Mindy on Christmas Eve – you can find her song here if you missed it. For the video to accompany her version of Auld Lang Syne she asked fans to send her photos of those they loved or had lost, or maybe both. The resulting collage is absolutely wonderful, and is made even better by the number of heartfelt comments from people whose photos were featured. This really does capture the end of year reflective mood so very well:

For today, I marked the New Year with two choices. The first is well-known and an obvious choice: it wasn’t that imagination had deserted me, just that I happen to like it! To begin with, then, here are ABBA:

And to round things off for this time, another selection from the incomparable Mary Chapin Carpenter. She also featured in my Christmas songs collection, on Christmas Day itself, and you can find her by following the link in the paragraph above about Mindy Smith. There is a video of MCC performing this song live, in which she explains the background to the song: it is based on a real life meeting, which she noted down and turned into the most beautiful song. I’m giving you the ‘official’ video from her record company, which is slightly clearer than the live version. As she says,

‘We dwell on possibility on New Year’s Day’

I only had a week to share these New Year songs and could have chosen many more. My YouTube playlist now comprises around 40 songs and can be found here if you’d like to see more.

Having said that I’d finished I’m going to cheat a little now, and add in a bonus just for you: this one wasn’t shared on Twitter or Facebook. One of my earliest childhood memories of New Year’s Day was the televised concert of Strauss family music from Vienna, which my Mum loved and we watched with her, along with the ski jumping from Garmisch-Partenkirchen which followed it. These were both rare treats in the late 1950s/early 1960s, before wall to wall TV took over. The closing delight of the concert was always the final encore, the Radetzky March, during which the conductor would turn to the audience and conduct their hand-clapping. This has always seemed to me to be the epitome of the joy and hopefulness that the start of a new year can bring, so I’ll leave you with this one from a few years ago, during which Daniel Barenboim does eventually keep up with tradition:

I hope that 2019 brings you all that you wish for. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day

So it’s 2014 already? When 2013 started I thought it would feel like the longest year of my life. As I may have mentioned (ahem!) I retired in September and as I was really looking forward to this I imagined that the months would drag until then. How wrong I was! It seems to have been a whirlwind all around me, and the year absolutely rocketed by. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m loving retirement – I was clearly born to be a gentleman of leisure! – and have been caught up in turning my rented flat into much more of a comfortable home now that I’ll be spending much more time here. Well, officially, anyway! Those of you who have been with me here for some time will know that I started this blog to share my experience of depression in the hope that it would help others, and I have to say that the dark days of 2011-12 seem a very long way away. Of course, I am still under the care of the health services and am likely to be on medication for a while yet, but I rarely think about my illness now. That has to be a good thing, right?

This is probably the last chance for me to post while I still have WordPress’ wonderful seasonal theme for my blog, complete with falling snow. So for New Year’s Day I thought I’d share with you a few songs that I think are right for this time of year, as well as leaving you with my hope for the year ahead. Although it isn’t perhaps the most seasonal of the songs, I chose as the title for this piece an early U2 song, if for no other reason than to show you Bono in his angelic youth phase, before he became a great world leader. It also happens to be today – clever, eh!

It wouldn’t feel right to write this without wishing you a ‘Happy New Year!!’ somewhere along the way. This seems like a good way to do it:

In the UK and, I believe, other parts of the world, the song Auld Lang Syne is associated with New Year. I’d like to include it here, but – with apologies to my Scots friends – I couldn’t possibly do that with some hairy-arsed bagpipe players involved. So here’s a new version, which I think is rather lovely. It’s by Mindy Smith and she put the video together after asking fans to send her pictures of  “those WE LOVE and those WE WILL NEVER FORGET.” It tells the story well:

If you can watch that without a tear in your eye then you have a harder heart than mine!

The turn of a new year is always a time which encourages us to look back at what has happened and to think about what is to come. This Counting Crows track is in my view one of the best at conveying those feelings. As an added bonus, the video includes some of Courtney Cox’s finest ever acting work:

In the vein of that song, I too have spent some quiet time over the past few days thinking about where I was, where I am now and what lies ahead. Whilst I’m grateful to be so much better, I know of several people who have been, and still are, in difficult situations either physically or mentally, or both. This saddens me, as it makes me feel unable to help. I’ve been so well supported during and since my illness that I wish I could give something of that to people I am proud to call friends. I’m not in any way qualified to provide counselling or any other assistance, but I know I can help people by listening to them and sharing my experience with them. But I’m far from being unique in this. We all have something to offer others, especially when they may be afraid to ask for it. So my hope is that we can all think of someone who needs and deserves our love and support, even if they are unable to tell us that, and to do something about it. Hopefully we can then all look forward to a better year in 2014, no matter how good 2013 may have been for us.

Happy New Year. May it bring you peace, joy, love and fulfilment.